Mural honors slain New Kensington police officer
More than 30 Valley High School students, faculty members and a security guard have embraced art to fashion a continuous theme: caring.
Together, they produced a mural of remembrance honoring the life and sacrifice of slain New Kensington police Officer Brain Shaw.
It is being displayed throughout March in the “Arts Alive!” exhibit at Penn State, New Kensington.
“The process — a labor of community awareness and involvement — and the student interest were heartwarming to say the least,” says Prissy Pakulski, veteran Valley art teacher
Students and staff were given the opportunity to paint a 12-inch-by-12-inch panel for the mural.
“It acknowledges the ultimate gift of Brian Shaw,” Pakulski says. “(The mural squares) looked like small mini-paintings but as a group they express a continuous theme,” she says.
Applied science teacher Kathy Jo Sagwitz, also a paramedic who worked in New Kensington for many years and the wife of a policeman, chose blues and grays because they are the colors of the officers' uniforms.
“I know all of the New Kensington officers and I knew Brian Shaw. I teach them all CPR and first aid on a regular basis,” she says. “Many of them have been my friends for many years. I consider them to be part of my family. When you are in the emergency service you become a family. I felt moved to take part in this project. The loss of Officer Shaw profoundly affected me.”
She hopes when people view the mural they think about the collaborative effort “to remember the memory of a good man, a good officer who made the ultimate sacrifice during the course of doing his job.”
Junior Hayley Albright was honored to be part of the project, selecting acrylics on plywood as her medium of expression on the mural.
“The theme of my drawings is ‘The little things in life' because we ignore the small things around us. We take those things for granted,” she says. “That is why I drew those items on the Officer Shaw project because all they have left is the memories and the good times. I give my condolences to the Shaw family because they lost someone who was a hero.”
Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.